Slowly rising

Halifax saw a slight increase in house prices between April and May, but the overall message is one of stability. In its commentary on the housing market the lender highlighted that, despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, underlying conditions in the broader economy continue to underpin the housing market, particularly the twin factors of high employment and low interest rates. On a monthly basis, house prices rose by 0.5% and in the latest quarter (March to May) house prices were 2.5% higher than in the preceding three months (December to February).  House prices in the three months to May were 5.2% higher than in the same three months a year earlier

May’s annual change figure of 5.2% comes against the backdrop of a particularly low growth rate in the corresponding period in 2018, which has had an impact on year-on-year comparisons. Forecasts of future growth are supported by industry-wide figures which suggest no real change in the number of homes being sold month to month, while Bank of England data show the number of mortgages being approved rose by almost 6% in April, reversing the softness seen in the previous month. While current conditions may help those looking to make their first move onto the property ladder, existing homeowners will doubtless be considering long-term house price growth which continues to look subdued in comparison to recent years.

Looking ahead, Halifax expect the current trend of stability based on high employment and low interest rates to persist over the coming months, though clearly any downturn in the wider economy would be keenly felt in the housing market.